CD Review: Chris Allen “Acetate”

Every city has their version of the singer-songwriter that should be bigger than they are. In Cleveland, we call this singer-songwriter Chris Allen. This musician who has made a lot of music history in the city of Cleveland, whether he is backing up some of Cleveland’s other talented musicians or playing his own library of music with his band The Guilty Hearts. In 2010, Chris Allen added to his catalog of albums with his newest release, Acetate.

To help create his newest release of Acetate, Chris Allen once again called upon Don Dixon to produce the album. With Dixon’s help, Acetate has a sound that is very professional. The album sounds as if it were released on a major record label.

Acetate from Chris Allen begins with the song “Love Not Born”. This is one of the strongest tracks of the entire album, with a sound that harkens back to the days when Allen was part of the Cleveland band Rosavelt. In fact, the rock song sounds as if it belongs on that band’s debut album called Carp And Bones.

One of the songs on Acetate that has a very personal feeling to it is the track “I Don’t Live Here Anymore”. The words of this song from Chris Allen make the listener imagine a man who is remembering better days while walking past a house he used to call home. This is one of the songs from Allen that really shows his talent as a songwriter.

While Chris Allen can write music that changes styles from song to song, the resulting songs can all be grouped together under the ‘rock and roll’ genre. One song off of Allen’s Acetate that really can be described as ‘rock and roll’ is “We Are Just Kids,” a song that has a style that might remind you a little of The Rolling Stones.

The most interesting part of the album comes during the first twenty-five seconds of Allen’s “Burn down the Road”. The beginning of the song contains a loop made of sounds you might hear at a car repair garage while cars are being worked on. After the initial twenty-five seconds of the song, the tune turns into something that sounds like Bob Dylan might have recorded.

Speaking of Dylan, it’s on the song “People Need Targets” that Allen’s political side seems to show up, at least for one song. The song comments on the fact that people who are just a little different will always end up being bothered. Commentary aside, the song has a sound so infectious that it is easy to find yourself singing along as you listen.

For the song “With the Morning Comes the Sun,” Chris Allen is joined by several talented musicians who add their voices to the beginning of the track. The resulting harmony created by these voices becomes part of the song itself as this harmony gets mixed into the music throughout the song. The track also features a duet between Allen and Ohio-born singer Marti Jones.

The song “Together We Are” is another song that shows off Chris Allen’s style as a singer-songwriter. “Together We Are” is a song that features Chris Allen playing the song on his acoustic guitar in a solo setting, producing a folk feeling to the song. “Together We Are” closes out Chris Allen’s newest album, Acetate.

With the release of Acetate, Chris Allen has created one of his most solid albums. Whether it’s solo as on “Together We Are” or together with talented people like Marti Jones and former bandmates Austin Charanghat and Tom Prebish on “With the Morning Comes the Sun,” Chris Allen’s Acetate is a strong release. Hopefully, it’s strong enough to make Cleveland’s singer-songwriter Chris Allen more than just a local favorite.

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